The agriculture sector continues to face significant recruitment challenges despite a rise in overall payrolled staff in the workforce.

The latest early payrolled employee estimates for January 2024 indicate there were 2.46 million payrolled employees in Scotland. Compared with the same month the year before, the number of payrolled employees had risen by 1.1 per cent (27,000).

This compares with a rise of 1.4 per cent for the UK over the same period. In November 2020, the lowest point following the start of the pandemic, there were 80,000 fewer payrolled employees in Scotland than prior to the pandemic.

However, the estimated number of payrolled employees has generally been increasing since November 2020 and has continued to be above the pre coronavirus since November 2021.

Commenting on the latest publication of labour market statistics, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The record high number of payrolled employees in Scotland is welcome. However, the wider data reflects the ongoing challenges facing the UK economy, including inflationary pressures and the continuing impacts of Brexit.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to doing everything within currently devolved powers to support more people into work.

“This includes expanding Scotland’s provision of high quality funded childcare to support more parents, and those with caring responsibilities, into work.

“The Scottish Government’s employability services are working to tackle inequalities in Scotland’s labour market by helping people progress towards and into sustainable employment. The Scottish Government also continues to support and promote flexible working from day one of employment.

“The forthcoming Green Industrial Strategy will help businesses and investors realise the enormous economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero and create well-paid green jobs across Scotland.

“But with sectors such as hospitality and agriculture still facing enormous recruitment challenges, the UK Government’s proposed changes to immigration policy will further prevent access to the international labour market that Scotland needs for the economy to prosper. With full powers over migration, Scotland could boost its workforce and tackle recruitment challenges.”